Probably the most magical moment in a family lawyer’s practice is the creation of a parent-child relationship through the process of adoption. It is an awe-inspiring thing, the voluntary assumption of parental rights and duties. It is a commitment and a promise born of love.
I’m adopted, and I’m forever grateful for it.
- Because in Texas a child can never have more than two parents, adoption requires that one or both of the birth parents be deceased or have their parental rights terminated.
Adoption results in the creation of parenthood in the adoptive parent(s). They are thereafter treated in
all ways as the parent of the child(ren) in question, as if they were the biological parents. This creates
a new relationship, including the following rights and duties:
- The right to inherit from one another
- The rights and duties of parents to support, care for, protect, and raise the child
- The rights to make decisions for the child’s welfare
- Access to information pertaining to the child
- Without an adoption, a non-parent in possession of a child has none of these rights. Even with various powers of attorney, non-parents will find it difficult to “act like a parent” with schools, medical providers, etc.
- Adoption is often used to make a child’s parent status match his or her real life, where the adoptive parent has already been performing a parenting role. In this way, adoption is healing and can make the family unit more whole. Many older adopted children are genuinely excited to be adopted and get closure on any family troubles in the past.
One of the challenges in alienation cases is distinguishing it from “normal” childhood and adolescent development. Lying, secretive behavior, rebellion, and other negative conduct is common in many children, and sometimes we as parents unwittingly make a bad situation worse by our own parenting. An experienced child and family counselor can help you determine when it crosses the line.
- One or more deceased or terminated birth parents.
- An adoptive parent with a genuine, real connection and love for the child developed over a reasonable length of time
- A strong relationship with the remaining birth parent (if applicable); historically this is shown in a marriage between the adoptive parent and the remaining birth parent, a Step-Parent Adoption, though this is not required in the Texas Family Code.
- In cases where both parents are deceased or terminated, married and single persons with a longstanding relationship with the child may seek adoption of the child. These are typically extended family members of the child (aunt, uncle, grandparent) or in Child Protective Services termination cases, foster parents.
- The prospective home must be visited as part of an adoption social study, and the adoptive parent must submit to a criminal background check.
- The parties must show the court that adoption is in the child’s best interest.
The adoption process takes approximately 3 to 5 months in most cases.
Once the adoption is granted, the court will sign an Order of Adoption and the clerk of the court will issue a Certificate of Adoption which is necessary for any name change or birth certificate changes for the child.